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John Marvin

To Succeed in Optometry, Be Yourself

No matter what appeals to you about practicing optometry, there’s opportunity for everyone.




A FEW YEARS BACK, there was a popular song going around called “All About That Bass.” The message of the song was about body image and that the singer was confident in who she was and was determined to be herself. She wasn’t going to try and be something she wasn’t.

I think there is a message there that many optometrists should take to heart. The profession of optometry is diverse; there are many different reasons that young men and women decide on it as a career. 

Many are attracted to its entrepreneurial opportunities, while others are attracted to its flexibility of schedule or employment security. Some are attracted to the idea of practicing medical optometry and providing comprehensive family eyecare, while others really enjoy the fashion and retail aspects of helping patients.

The point is, there’s room for everyone — and, more importantly, opportunity for everyone — regardless of what it is that appeals to you about practicing optometry.

You get in trouble when you try to be something or someone that you are not. If you don’t really enjoy practicing medical optometry, don’t try to just because of what others might think. If you really don’t enjoy the retail aspects of an optical dispensary, then seek out opportunities where this is not involved, rather than looking to own a practice, because in a successful optometry practice, the large bulk of revenue is typically generated by the optical dispensary.

Another way that I see independent optometrists getting into trouble is when they try to match their competition discount-for-discount or deal-for-deal. Don’t build your practice around someone else’s model. You should build your practice around your own model.  There are literally thousands of successful independent practices; some accept vision plans and some don’t. Some are strictly refractive and some aren’t. You decide what you want to do and then seek out others who are successful and learn from them.


Just like Meghan Trainor, the singer of the song, you have to be confident in who you are and not only be comfortable with it but love it! Because it’s all about that bass — no treble, or trouble.

John D. Marvin has more than 25 years of experience in the ophthalmic and optometric practice industry. He is the president of Texas State Optical and writes about marketing, management and education at the blog. You can email him at


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